From finance, to women’s affairs and gaming tax

Thursday, July 16, 2009
Issue 764, Page 3
Word count: 951
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Fernando Chui Sai On spent the fifth day of the campaign period presenting his political platform to the local banking sector, women’s group and gaming industry as well as listening to their opinions and suggestions about policy making.

In the morning the sole Chief Executive candidate attended a one-hour forum held by six associations from the financial sector, including the Macau Association of Banks, the Money Exchangers Association of Macao, Macau Insurers’ Association and the Association of Macau Insurance Intermediaries, at the Bank of China (Macau) headquarters.

Afterwards Mr Chui and his campaign team came down to the Women’s General Association of Macau on Rua da Campo for two hours, followed by another event in Grand Lisboa to meet with the General Association of Administrators and Promoters for Macau Gaming Industry.

During the first event of the day, Mr Chui responded to questions or suggestions mainly concerning economic recovery, the prospect of Macau’s financial sector, legal reform and also how to upgrade the status of Macau Pataca.

A member of the Macau Association of Banks asked what solid plans Mr Chui would have to diversify the economy and what his thought was about the future positioning of Macau’s financial industry.

Without giving a direct response to the first half of the question, the Chief Executive candidate said that the SAR government had the responsibility to stabilise society in face of the financial crisis, but it did not mean a “government intervention”.

“Big enterprises’ performance reports and academic work told me the financial crisis isn’t yet over. More negative news may come out in the future to hurt the global economy again,” Mr Chui said.

“But the government has to highly respect free trade and will only intervene in markets when the industry agrees with it or major risks emerge,” he added.

Yet, Mr Chui praised the performance of local financial practitioners in handling the global economic downturn, “that’s why Macau people’s confidence didn’t drop as much as the people in other places”.

Mr Chui also pointed out that only by relying on the gaming industry Macau would not see a sustainable future.

“I hope that existing industries, such as finance, convention and exhibition, culture and retail, can grow further based on their foundations. I believe Macau’s financial sector has a very big development potential. At the same time traditional manufacturing industry also has to be retained,” he said.

On the other hand, Mr Chui said that standards of legal officers had to be enhanced and more talents were required in this profession in a bid to improve Macau’s legal system and law-making efficiency.

Another forum attendee questioned the Chief Executive candidate of how he would boost the status of Macau Pataca and encourage local people to minimise the use of Hong Kong dollars in major transaction activities.

Mr Chui admitted that settling major payments, such as in home buying and installments, by Hong Kong dollars had been a “habit” for many generations in Macau.

“It’s a significant topic that the government should pay attention to. But it’s hard to deal with and perhaps we will need to cooperate with the industry to implement some measures to encourage people to use Pataca,” he said.

Meanwhile, in response to the question of when a new hospital would be built in the island, Mr Chui said that once the new government is installed, the project can be activated immediately probably in early 2010 to first choose the construction location.

Women’s concerns

Mr Chui and his campaign team visited the nursery under the Women’s General Association (AGMM) at 3pm and watched the dancing performance by the children.

He then met with over 100 members of the association and engaged in discussions with them.

According to AGMM president Chio Ngan Ieng, around 50.9 percent of the Macau population were women and this reflected the importance of women’s roles in society.

In addition, local women’s labour force participation rate was at 67.5 percent, she said.

Ms Chio said that she hoped the next government could enhance women’s affairs mechanisms, increase investments in day care service and elderly centres so as to reduce working women’s burden at home, as well as launch the two-tier social security system as soon as possible.

Other members were also concerned about the negative impact gaming industry brought to young people’s life value and morality.

Mr Chui admitted that in the past development process of the gaming industry, there was a a group of people who entered the labour force without completing tertiary education, thus giving them no career prospect or promotion opportunities.

He vowed that the government had the responsibility to upgrade those young casino workers’ education levels so that they could be promoted to managerial positions in companies.

Gaming and junket tax

In the evening the Chief Executive candidate arrived in Grand Lisboa for the meeting with the General Association of Administrators and Promoters for Macau Gaming Industry, headed by president Angela Leong On Kei.

Apart from questions about a possible reduction of gaming tax, representatives of the association asked whether Mr Chui would consider lowering the 0.01 percent commission tax rate imposed on junket promoters, in order to maintain the status and competitiveness of Macau’s gaming industry.

Yet, Mr Chui merely said that he needed to take into account the overall situation of Macau’s tax revenue and it would require further study before any decision could be made.

At the same time he said Macau should first improve some basic conditions, such as cutting down border clearance’s waiting time, to boost its international image.

Mr Chui also said that it had always been the SAR government’s responsibility to combat illegal betting, adding that efforts would be reinforced in the future.

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